No Decision on Syria Power Transition

No Decision on Syria Power TransitionNo Decision on Syria Power Transition

No timetable was agreed in the Friday international peace talks on the Syria crisis for the transition of power from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as part of a political process to end the four-year conflict.

It was the first time Iran was invited to such a peace conference on Syria, which was attended by foreign ministers of 17 countries and their deputies, Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, and Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief.

After the meeting in Vienna, participants issued a joint statement.

"As the nine-article statement stresses, no decision has been made to drive Assad from office based on a timetable," Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters after the meeting.

"A timetable was proposed for transition of power in the talks. But Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif managed to convince the attendees not to include it in the final statement."

Assad's role has been a source of contention between his allies and foes in efforts to settle the Syria conflict. While western countries and their allies seek to oust him as part of any peace deal, Iran and Russia maintain that it is up to the Syrian people to decide.

  Inclusive Governance

The statement said pursuant to the 2012 Geneva Communiqué and UN Security Council Resolution 2118, participants invited the UN to convene representatives of the government of Syria and the Syrian opposition for a political process leading to a credible, inclusive governance, followed by a new constitution and elections.

"These elections must be administered under UN supervision to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, free and fair, with all Syrians, including the diaspora, eligible to participate," it said.

The statement also said that during the process of transition, government institutions will "remain intact". Amir-Abdollahian described the meeting as a "hard" one with "many complexities", saying, "The meeting could be the first step to establish good and constructive multilateral dialogue."

  Difficult Path

"Given the unconstructive ideas raised [by some participants] in the meeting, I guess we should expect more difficulties in the next rounds of Syria talks," Amir-Abdollahian was quoted by IRNA as saying.

The participants in Vienna, including the United States and Russia, said "substantial differences remain" though they agreed it was "imperative to accelerate all diplomatic efforts to end the war" and the ministers will reconvene within two weeks, Reuters reported.

Other sticking points included the question of which rebel groups should be considered terrorists and who should be involved in the political process.

  Seeking a Truce

Parties to the talks called for a nationwide truce along with efforts to help advance the process of political transition.

The statement said, "The participants together with the United Nations will explore modalities for, and implementation of, a nationwide ceasefire to be initiated on a certain date and in parallel with this renewed political process."

They agreed to step up humanitarian support to the war-ravaged Arab country.

"Humanitarian access will be ensured throughout the territory of Syria and the participants will increase support for internally displaced persons, refugees and their host countries," said the statement.